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Christian Horner

Horner declares Perez must 'dig deep' to recover F1 form

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has provided an honest account of Sergio Perez's current levels of performance.

To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner has stated Sergio Perez must “dig deep” to bounce back from his poor run of form at Red Bull.

The six-time grand prix winner, who has now gone over a year without taking victory, started 2024 with four podiums in the opening five rounds, but has since failed to reach the rostrum.

In the sprint at the Red Bull Ring, he found himself 17 seconds adrift of team-mate Max Verstappen, who won the 23-lap race. However, Perez could only manage eighth.

Perez ended qualifying for the grand prix in seventh, nine-tenths down on Verstappen.

"We're doing our best to support him and to find out what it is that's missing because the first four or five races were very competitive," Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"Whatever has happened that has caused him to drop off... Suzuka, one of the toughest tracks in the world and a real driver circuit, he was a tenth of a second off Max.

"Here, with nine corners, the gap is obviously significantly greater. So we just need to get to the bottom of it and help him recover."

Horner states contracts are irrelevant amid pressure

With McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes having closed the performance gap to Red Bull over the past five rounds, the Mexican driver now finds himself separated by his team-mate by the six drivers from those three teams for the start of the race.

Red Bull confirmed it had penned Perez to a new two-year deal (with the second season a team option) ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, but his run of form has led to the team being questioned en masse over the decision.

"Checo's [Sergio Perez] position within the team, what he has contributed to the team, warranted that," Horner said, trying to quell suggestions Red Bull moved too soon to extend Perez's contract.

"But, of course, there's always pressure to perform and that is irrelevant of contracts, which we're obviously never going to go into the detail of.

"Checo knows it's a pressure business, and he knows the scrutiny that there is, particularly in a car that's winning a lot of races and performing with the other driver the way it is.

"So that's Formula 1, and that pressure just naturally exists on any team-mate that is under-delivering. The media start asking questions, and it's very easy to lose your head at that.

"Now, what I've been impressed with Checo over the last four years is that whenever the pressure is really been on, and it's on at the moment, he's always been able to bounce back, and he's going to need to dig deep to do that."

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